Debunking the “July Effect”

For decades, doctors have all shared one piece of common advice, “Don’t get sick on the first of July.”

This timeline, known as the July Effect, is an infamous phenomenon in the medical world. Recent medical school graduates step foot in teaching hospitals as residents for the first time, as the class above them takes on new duties.

It’s at this time of the year that patients in even the nation’s best teaching hospitals notice budding physicians being replaced with a new class of diffident, albeit eager, students. With their white coats neatly pressed, brand new stethoscopes around their necks and pockets full of smart devices, offering a world’s worth of information at their fingertips, it’s not difficult to distinguish this new crop of aspiring doctors from their much more experienced counterparts.

Throughout the medical world, there’s the understanding that even the smallest of errors, committed by inexperienced interns, can have catastrophic consequences for patient care.

While this concern of overenthusiastic residents, perhaps enjoying more independence than they really should have in teaching hospitals of the past, may have very well have once been warranted, Arnot Health chooses to look more closely at the future of our teaching programs to cultivate the true potential of our incoming residents as aspiring medical professionals and valuable assets to our caregiving team.

In fact, we believe that the introduction of these eager residents and interns is an added dynamic to our hospital’s total patient care opportunities, and most importantly, the patient experience.

Long story short…things have changed. The July Effect is just a myth, now more than ever. Our residents are just as much an integral part of our team as anyone else.

They learn from our doctors and listen to our nurses, and are always closely supervised. As a result, the kind of care that our residents can provide for our patients is better now than ever before.

Arnot Health is in its third year as a teaching hospital. In those three short years, we’ve made it our mission to transform the way our residents gain hands-on experience, in a world class educational setting.

Before being given any kind of independent authority, aspiring doctors go through a kind of “resident bootcamp,” if you will. For months, residents are drilled on the basics: where specific medical materials are located, who to talk to depending on any given situation, the importance of listening to a nurse’s recommendations and so on. There’s so much supervision, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a resident not to take a call on their own for the first six months of their residency.

We watch our residents like hawks. We take the job of teaching these students incredibly seriously.

And, there’s something important to remember: We are absolutely responsible for the patients that these residents are working with. We make very certain that they continue to receive the proper care no matter what, and from whomever may be providing it.

Ultimately, with so much supervision and attention to detail paid to our residents’ roles and responsibilities, Arnot Health is ensuring that they become a truly necessary, effective branch of our caregiving team. As a result, the hospital has more eyes on its patients, and more skilled boots on the ground providing the kind of total care that wasn’t possible before the insertion of medical students into the hospital’s various departments and programs.

What may have once been a legitimate concern to both doctors and their patients is no more, at least when it comes to the kind of care that Arnot Health prides itself on offering.

Rather than succumb to the myth of the July Effect, aspiring physicians and their supervisors hunker in for the long haul. We work off of one-another’s strengths and expertise and provide the best possible and complete care to anyone who steps foot in an Arnot Health facility.

Dr. Beth Dollinger, orthopedic surgeon for Arnot Health, writes a blog series to help answer frequently-asked questions, offer perspective on newsworthy events, and essentially give patients a hand in their own healthcare. If you’d like more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Beth Dollinger, click here to find her contact information listed in our provider directory.

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